Deciding on Cataract Surgery
Most people have plenty of time to decide about cataract surgery. Your doctor cannot make your decision for you, but talking with your doctor can help you decide.
Tell your doctor how your cataract affects your vision and your life. Check the statements below that apply to you and share this list with your doctor:
- I need to drive, but there is too much glare from the sun or headlights.
- I do not see well enough to do my best at work.
- I do not see well enough to do the things I need to do at home.
- I do not see well enough to do things I like to do (for example, read, watch TV, sew, hike, play cards, go out with friends).
- I am afraid I will bump into something or fall.
- Because of my cataract, I am not as independent as I would like to be.
- My glasses do not help me see well enough.
- My eyesight bothers me a lot.
You may also have other specific problems that you want to discuss with your eye doctor.
What Should I know About Surgery?
Your doctor will discuss the options with you before choosing the best kind of cataract removal and lens replacement for you. He or she will also explain how to prepare for surgery and how to take care of yourself after it is over.
Most people do not need to stay overnight in a hospital to have cataract surgery. You may go to an outpatient center or hospital, have your cataract removed, and leave when your doctor says you are fit to leave. However, you will need a friend or family member to take you home. You also will need someone to stay with you for at least a day to help you follow your doctor’s instructions.
It takes a few months for an eye to heal after cataract surgery. Your eye doctor should check your progress and make sure you have the care you need until your eye recovers fully.
Removing the Lens
There are three types of surgery to remove lenses that have a cataract:
- Extracapsular surgery. The eye surgeon removes the lens, leaving behind the back half of the capsule (the outer covering of the lens).
- Phacoemulsification (pronounced FAY-co-ee-mul-sih-fih-CAY-shun). In this type of extracapsular surgery, the surgeon softens the lens with sound waves and removes it through a needle. The back half of the lens capsule is left behind.
- Intracapsular surgery. The surgeon removes the entire lens, including the capsule. This method is rarely used.
Replacing the Lens
A person who has cataract surgery usually gets an artificial lens at the same time. A plastic disc, called an intraocular lens, is placed in the lens capsule inside the eye. Other choices are contact lenses and cataract glasses. Your doctor will help you to decide which choice is best for you.